Edward Theuns capitalized on a great lead-out and sprinted to his first victory of the season in stage one at the Baloise Belgium Tour, Thursday.
The 174.5-kilometer stage played out towards a bunch finish with an easily-controlled two men forming the day’s breakaway and everything was together again with 17-kilometers remaining.
A few antagonists tried their luck at spoiling a sprint ending, but the high-pace in the chaotic final kilometers kept everything tight. With perfectly-timed precision, Trek-Segafredo came to the front in leading out Theuns, and he delivered on the uphill finish with a powerful sprint to win by half a bike length.
“The team launched me perfectly in the last two kilometers,” explained Theuns. “They did amazing work, Boy (Van Poppel) in particular did such a long pull in the end. I kept pushing him and he rode until he almost fell off his bike. When I was alone I had to wait a little bit before launching my sprint, but I picked the right moment and then when the bump came I knew I had it.
“For me, it is a very important victory. I was waiting for my first victory this season and I had very high ambitions coming to the Tour of Belgium. I was happy with the prologue yesterday, I did a good time and good values on my SRM, and I was confident that the form is good.”
Theuns has worked tirelessly for the team’s top sprinters this season, and when given his chances, knocked on victory’s door, sprinting to three podium places, but never the top step.
“In the spring I gained a lot of confidence in my sprinting, I felt like I made progress and felt good power,” continued Theuns. “I rested for a week after the Classics and started building again with the Tour of Belgium being a big goal. I came here with ambitions to win a stage. My sprint felt good in training, and today all the hard training paid off.”
“I knew that Edward was training really well,” added Director Dirk Demol. “He went to Girona for some specific training and he was really focused on this race. I had promised him in Croatia that he would be the leader here. He has been pulling for the team, for Giacomo (Nizzolo) and Niccolo (Bonifazio), and doing all this work and he is fast as well, so it was time to give him something back. So I told him I have only one leader in Belgium, doesn’t matter who comes, but you are my leader.”
Theuns sealed his first win this year, shaking the monkey off his back and proving that his leadership onus is well-deserved.